Holbeck is a district in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. The district begins on the southern edge of the Leeds city centre and mainly lies in the LS11 Leeds postcode area. The M1 and M621 motorways used to end (begin) in Holbeck.

Now the motorway M621 is the only motorway that passes through the area since the end of the M1 moved to Hook Moor near Aberford. Since large parts of Holbeck have been vacated in preparation for the regeneration of the area, the district has in large parts suffered from a population exodus.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal also runs through Holbeck.


In the first half of the 19th century Holbeck village was a hamlet of just a few streets, most of which were owned by John Scholey (1774-1834) and are all listed, with tenants, in his will, now at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York.

His family sold up with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when Holbeck became one of the richest and most significant places in England. Holbeck’s foundries and mills manufactured cloth, machinery, steam engines and other equipment for companies across the world.

The area was home to three of the greatest industrialists of the age: Colonel Thomas Harding, John Marshall and Matthew Murray. Holbeck has suffered significant decline since the 19th century; many of the industrial buildings and warehouses have been demolished or fallen into disrepair. Holbeck is nevertheless home to 33 listed buildings and many other important architectural structures, some of the most notable of these are: The Dark Arches, the Hol Beck, Marshall’s Mill, the Midland Mills, the Round Foundry, Temple Works, Tower Works and two railway roundhouses.

Holbeck was once well served by rail; Holbeck Station (now demolished) was notable because it was a two-tier station with a low line and a high line. A disused railway viaduct still runs through Holbeck. When it was built in 1869, it was thought to be one of the engineering marvels of the Victorian age.

Plans are now underway to convert the track bed (which is currently overgrown with trees and shrubs) into a raised walkway leading directly into Leeds City centre.From 1956 to 2004 Kay’s Catalogues was the largest employer in Holbeck. Particularly around Christmas when temporary staff were taken on to cope with the rush.

Recent time

Over recent years efforts have been made to regenerate the Holbeck area. The most notable scheme is the Holbeck Urban Village, which is expected to attract investment of around £800 million and create around 5,000 jobs.

However, the area surrounding the ‘Village’ is still very deprived and run down, prior to regeneration taking place. The area has recently lost the only supermarket in the area, the local bowling alley (LA Bowl) and the local post office. A new Post Office has recently opened on Crosby Road. Once Holbeck’s largest employer, Kays Catalogues, had a major distribution Centre on Marshall Street in Holbeck.

Kays had been in Leeds since 1956 when they acquired Samuel Driver Ltd and took over their Holbeck depot. In 1958 they set about major expansion of the depot, and then again in 1981. The buildings pictured opened in 1981 and closed in 2004 after the amalgamation of Kays and Littlewoods moved most operations to Littlewoods depots in Liverpool.

The newer parts of the building are undergoing demolition while the older listed parts of the building, still stand while their fate is decided. Over the last decade many residential areas of have gone into decline, while the traditional industrial areas have largely been regenerated as part of the Holbeck Urban Village and other office park development.


From the 1990s onwards the housing around the Recreation area of Holbeck became increasingly rundown. From 2007, Leeds City Council began vacating the back-to-back housing in the area. By 2009 the vast majority of the houses were vacant and Leeds City Council began preliminary demolition work in the area, clearing the houses and pasting notices of demolition on affected buildings.

The regeneration of Holbeck coincides with similar regeneration of back-to-back residential areas in neighbouring Beeston. Since 2008, the Holbeck Moor flats have also started to be vacated by the council, however there have been no stated plans for their demolition.


The area has lost many of its amenities as part of a general population exodus that has taken place in the area since the vacation of many properties as part of a Leeds City Council lead regeneration scheme. There are now three public houses in Holbeck, The Bulls Head, The Britannia (now re-branded simply as The Brit) and United Bar. Since 2005, The Kings Arms, The Spotted Cow, The Lord Nelson and The Wagon and Horses – now re-opened as United Bar – have all closed. There is also a working men’s club in the area, though Holbeck Urban Village is home to two other pubs, the Midnight Bell and The Cross Keys. The 2,000-capacity Victoria Works in Holbeck is home to Leeds’s clubbing institutions Federation and Dirty Disco.

Another nightclub, KerbCrawler, also operates in Holbeck and takes inspiration for its name from the red light district nearby. The area’s Kwik Save supermarket closed in 2005, leaving only small independent convenience stores. The area’s Post Office closed in 2008, however services were resumed with the opening of a new Post Office in 2009.

There is also a bookmaker, a launderette and several fast food takeaways. There is also a branch of the Leeds Building Society (until 2005, The Leeds and Holbeck Building Society).Sweet Street in Holbeck recently lost out in the running to be home of a proposed Leeds Arena. The Round Foundry is a former engineering works off Water Lane in Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.The Round Foundry was built in 1795-1797 by a partnership of James Fenton, Matthew Murray, David Wood and the financier William Lister, trading as Fenton, Murray and Wood, (later Fenton, Murray and Jackson).


It was at the Round Foundry that Matthew Murray made his name as a great engineer. He became one of the worlds finest producers of textile machinery, steam engines and locomotives.

The Round Foundry developed to become one of the world’s first specialist engineering foundries. Disaster struck in the 19th century when fire destroyed some of the original buildings, including the large rotunda that gave the Round Foundry its name. Some buildings were saved, the earliest of which dates from 1798.There are a a total of 7 listed buildings in the Round Foundry complex.

These include the Dry Sand Foundry, the Green Sand Foundry and 101 Water Lane.The first phase of a £30 million redevelopment has led to the creation of the Round Foundry Media Centre, which provides office space for creative and digital media companies. This project also provides restaurants, bars and cafés set in a number of courtyards that try to retain as much of the character of the old foundry as is possible.

This redevelopment project has won a number of architectural awards including; ‘Best Creative Land Use’ and ‘Best Urban Centre’, Yorkshire Urban Renaissance Awards 2005; ‘Project of the Year’, RICS Regeneration Awards 2005; ‘Excellence in Architecture and Built Environment’ and ‘Best Commercial, Industrial and Retail’, RIBA Yorkshire White Rose Awards 2005.Phase two and three are due to be completed in 2007.